Larnaca, many more doors for my book

I have on many occasions contemplated trying to publish a book containing pictures of all the lovely doors that I have seen on my travels, and Larnaca has certainly added many beautiful ones to my collection.

This is a very different place to Aiya Napa, which was lovely but full of modern apartment blocks and hotels. This is the wonderful old Cyprus that I have been really looking forward to seeing. I have spent many a happy hour wandering up and down the streets exploring. I love all the little bars and workshops in the old buildings, like this copper workshop below.

It is a city of contrasts. The area that I am staying in is just outside the city, next to one of the main beach areas, in between that and the salt lakes. There are many hotels and very swish apartment blocks here, and lots more under construction with hoardings showing beautiful designer apartments, all with balconies with their own jacuzzies, and wonderful sea views.

Between this and the city is an older area, full of small houses, possibly those of the fisherman who worked out of the harbour. Some of the houses are in the process of being restored, many sadly are empty. It is very interesting to see the contrasts between the two areas so close to each other, and I wonder what will become of some of these empty houses.

The city itself has its seafront, with a lovely promenade full of palm trees and lots of restaurants, including all the usual big chains, but lots of independent ones as well.

I have been spending lots of time in the older streets behind there, around the old mosque next to the fort, and the church of St Lazurus with its beautiful colonnades and a stunning bell tower

The interior of the church was very different to the others I posted about last week as it had a lot of very rustic stonework inside rather than paintings. There was still a stunning altarpiece.

I was very good and only had a little look around the icon shop, I didn’t buy anything though I could have spent a fortune in there.

I visited the fort on Thursday, situated looking over the bay, next to the mosque, and almost on the beach.

It was fascinating to see the Turkish tombstones that they have on display.

This is an island of so many cultures, the fort was built by the Franks, restored by the Turks during the Ottaman Empire and then later used as a jail and police station by the British. The mosque next to the fort was joined to the the neighbouring buildings of a later date by these buttresses.

The more I read about Cypriot history the more I find out about how many different people have come here over the years to settle, to conquer, to trade. It really is an amazingly diverse history, and obviously not without an impact on those who have lived here.

Then there are the many, many beautiful doors. Some are shiny and pristine, from the beautifully restored houses. Others are sad and chipped, sometimes you can glimpse the empty abandoned rooms behind them, some only front an empty shell of a building with no roof. However each must have its own story to tell, a part to play in the very complex story of all the people that have been here.

Most have, very helpfully, the date of construction on them, and many seem to be from the 1910s to 1920s. It makes me wonder what this place was like then, before the fight for independence from the British, before the division of the island into two parts.

I have visited Nicosia this week as well, the world’s only divided capital city, and am planning to go back again next week. In the next post I will show you some of the beautiful things there. There may well be doors involved, but also I visited some brilliant museums and finally got to see some Cypriot textiles!

Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Travel inspiration

I mentioned in a previous post that there were many reasons why I wanted to visit Cyprus. One of these was came from a book I read some years ago, by Victoria Hislop, called, ‘The Sunrise’. I am putting links in for all of the books I write about here but I am not sponsored, it is just in case you wish to follow up any for yourselves.

The book is about Famagusta, in Cyprus, not far from where I was staying in Aiya Napa, and starts when the city is a popular tourist destination in the early 1970s. This was before the conflicts between the Greek and Turkish people led to the splitting of the country into two areas, divided by a buffer zone. Parts of Famagusta are now a ghost town that the inhabitants have not been able to return to since they left.

I found the book absolutely fascinating. I had been aware of the fact that the country was divided, but had no idea of what had happened, even though it all took place when I was a teenager. It was an immensely compelling, and tragic story and made me want to visit the country, even though I am not actually going to Famagusta on this trip.

Victoria Hislop is a wonderful writer and I love the research that she does for her novels. As an aspiring writer, and one who is very much enjoying the research for my first book, I love to read books that have been so well researched and where that research is so carefully woven into the story.

I can also recommend another of her books, ‘The Return’, which is set in Granada. I visited that city in Spring last year for the second time.

I have just finished another book set here during the same time frame, it is one that I came across while doing one of my previous creative writing courses with the Workers’ Educational Association WEA as we read an extract from the book. Again this is one of my favourite authors, a previous read of hers, ‘The Forty Rules of Love’, being one of the best books I have ever read.

This one is called, ‘The Island of Missing Trees’. Elif Shafak, is a Turkish author who writes on a wide variety of topics linked to her culture and experiences, and this one is set in the capital city of Cyprus, Nicosia.

This is again a very powerful book and one that has a very compelling and unusual structure to it. I won’t say too much in case you want to read it, but it gives a very unique perspective into not only the social history of the island, but also its natural history.

I love to read books that tell the stories of the country while I am travelling there. Many years ago I read a book called, ‘A Tree grows in Brooklyn’, by Betty Smith.

The author was the daughter of German immigrants to America, born in the late 1890s, and writes about a young girl growing up amongst the poverty of Brooklyn.

This book, along with others such as, ‘Ellis Island’, by Kate Kerrigan, and a recent read on my trip to New York, The Weaver’ Legacy, by Olive Collins, all add to my enjoyment of visits such as the recent trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

I am currently reading some more books based on my USA trip. These have been on my Kindle list for a long time and combine stories of immigration with stories of the fashion industry in America at the start of the 20th century. The first one is called, The Pattern Artist, and they are all by Nancy Moser.

I do so love reading, and my Kindle Unlimited is one of my best things ever, along with my little library corner in the camper full of my charity shop purchases.

One of my greatest joys of retirement is the chance to read every day. Often I can read five books a week. At home in Spain I spend the warm evenings sitting on my terrace reading, and drinking wine πŸ˜‰ It is such a wonderful pleasure and I hope that you enjoy any of my recommendations here for you. Whether you travel or not, reading is a fantastic way to experience other cultures and histories.

I will be back soon with more of lovely Larnaca, the weather is being quite kind to me, a few showers now but since I am mainly here to visit museums and churches it has not been a problem. Hope you are all having a nice week and as always, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The beauty of Byzantine art

I suspect I may be posting more pictures like this later on, if the churches in Aiya Napa are anything to go by, but have been truly overwhelmed by the beauty of the decoration of the places here.

I have not seen much art like this outside of museums and art galleries, where the icons and paintings have always been beautiful but to see them in real life is just brilliant. What is particularly amazing is that the exterior of the buildings have been very plain. Unlike the ones in Peiya that I posted about previously, these were simple white painted structures.

The first was down by the harbour, a tiny little church which many people were visiting, and kissing the painting of St George and the Dragon that you can see bottom left. We British may claim him as our patron saint but he is actually Greek and his picture is in many places here, and lots of places are named after him.

There is not much left of the old part of Aiya Napa, and the monastery is sadly closed at the moment. There was a lovely bell tower however, next to the knight sculpture that I posted about previously.

I was a little disappointed that the main church near the monastery didn’t look very impressive. After seeing the beautiful stone ones previously I was expecting something similar. However, the outside did not do justice to what was within.

This is what Catholic churches must have looked like before Henry 8th and his break from Rome, so many incredible wall paintings.

This church was built in 1990 so is only 33 years old. Sadly some of the paintings, like these wonderful images of soldiers, are showing water damage.

There was some lovely gold work as well around the icons, one of which was very old.

There was a reference to an icon being found and placed in the monastery, so I am not sure if this is the same one, but she is beautiful, even being worn away now. I bought a small version of her to take home with me.

There were other icons and pieces of goldwork as well.

I think most of the goldwork is on the first two pieces is machine embroidered, rather than by hand, but still wonderful.

Outside the church were some mosaics in a large walled area which led to a little park above the church.

These are something that I haven’t seen before, and they are even more stunning than the paintings in lots of ways, as it so much more difficult to represent people in mosaic. Just look at the detail of the folds on the angel’s robe below.

I love the clothes they are wearing. At one of the earlier period re-enactment events we go to, the Battle of Evesham which is set in 1265, a lot of the re-enactors wear the most wonderful Byzantine costumes like the ones seen here and they are so beautiful.

I have now moved on from Aiya Napa, and am in Larnaca for a couple of weeks, which was another great bus trip. Rather than the inter-city buses, I caught the local one which went through a couple of little towns on the way, which was lovely as I got to see more of inland Cyprus.

As well as more churches, lots more museums and walks by the sea, I am hoping to do some trips to other cities, such as Limassol and Nicosia.

The little museum in Aiya Napa had some fascinating information about the history of Cyprus, as well as some interesting experimental archaeology reproductions of ancient ships.

I have now got some more books on Cyprus, so I am going to be doing more reading during my trip. This little island really does have a fascinating, and complex history, and I am really enjoying finding out more about it.

I hope you are all having a good week whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A clear blue sea

One of the things that has really struck me about the coastline here is how blue the sea is. We do have this in Spain, as sea colour is a reflection of the sky, but here it is a really intense blue, which I think must be due to how clear the water is. Most of the coast is rocky, rather than sandy, and there is little in the way of seaweed, so the sea is very clear and so beautiful.

I was staying only 10 minutes walk from the beach, just outside the centre of Aiya Napa, in a lovely studio apartment, River View Boutique Apartments. I can highly recommend this, if you come here. The apartment is beautiful. It has a little kitchenette, and an all important sunset over the sea view.

The sunsets here have been so gorgeous, a free show every evening.

Because of the excellent weather, most of my time has been spent at the coast, walking the stunning coastal path and sitting on the beach reading. It has been warm enough for lots of paddling, many people were swimming, and the sky has been a glorious blue all week.

There is lots of sculpture around Aiya Napa generally, the town obviously prides itself on the promotion of public art.

Many even come with added furry friends, all of these cats seem very well fed and happy. I saw lots of bowls of food and water around for them, but I think most are strays.

I also visited the outdoor sculpture park, which is just beside the coastal path. It is also a cactus park, and there were some wonderful displays of cactuses. I appreciate the effort that goes in to sculpture, and really liked some of them, especially the Argonauts bridge which was very cleverly done.

However I think the cactuses were my favourite bits of the park πŸ˜‰

There is also an underwater sculpture museum, but I am not a good diver. It does seem a brilliant concept for those who are though.

There were so many amazing houses beside the coastal path, if I had a spare few million I would love something like this!

I also had my first encounter with a squid, sadly dead on the beach.

Such a truly beautiful place, I am so glad that I came to this end of the island. I wondered if it would be too far to get to, and nearly left it off the plan, but I am so glad I have been able to visit this area as well. These two pictures are going to be on the photo wall at home to remind me of this trip.

Next post it will be the turn of all of the incredible churches I have seen so far. I have only bought one icon, but I can see there may be other purchases needed. They are only very small ones though. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

An exile abroad, my first week in Cyprus

There are many reasons why I chose Cyprus as the first of my winter exiles. The main one was to see my friend, as I had been promising for years to visit him since he moved away from Huddersfield after college, all those many years ago.

He was one of the inspirations for moving to Marsden, my last home in the UK, as many years previously, when he worked in the Middle East, he bought a house there as a base in the UK. We had many lovely visits to the village and so it was top of my list when I moved from Huddersfield.

I am going to spend just over five weeks here and have lots of exploring planned. I have never visited the country before and am really excited to be in a new place. I am even making a little bit of an attempt to learn the language, however the different alphabet is a challenge! Everything here is in English as well though, as the English occupied Cyprus for many years. They drive on the left and have the same electric plugs as the UK. There are some other reasons why I wanted to visit, which I will write about in a separate post.

Dave now lives here full time, in a large village at the western end of Cyprus called Peiya. The views from his house are stunning, all along the coastline towards Paphos.

The village is on the side of a hill, and is very steep in places, with a mix of older properties at the top and lots of gorgeous new developments all down to the coast.

As with La Marina, there are lots of English people who have moved here and it was lovely spending time with Dave’s friends and partner Jo, and getting to know them. Although I said I would only visit each country once from now on, as there are so many I want to visit, they are having an amazing new house built further up the hill, so I will have to come back and see that at some point.

We went out to the Akamos Point and the gorge on the first day, an incredible drive on some of the bumpiest roads that I have been on since my trip to Nepal. This is where the turtles come in to nest and is a protected area.

I also visited a few churches, this is one of the things that I was most excited about coming to Cyprus for as I have not really seen any Greek Orthodox churches, and you know how I love a good church πŸ˜‰ This first one was by the harbour in Peiya.

There was also a very tiny chapel just outside the village centre.

The village centre had a much larger church and down below a pergola where brides go to have their pictures taken. It was next to the original village water source, I think these were used for laundry, as are still found in many Spanish villages.

I love all the limestone here, it is such a beautiful stone and looks amazing next to the blue skies.

We also had a trip to Paphos, where I will be spending more time later in the trip, to one of the areas where a lot of Muslims used to live, before Cyprus was divided. One of the churches there had been turned into a mosque at some point, then abandoned post 1974, except for a lot of cute cats who lived in the churchyard.

At the end of the first week I caught the bus to Aiya Napa, via Nicosia. Cyprus has no trains, but a very good network of buses so 3 and a half hours later I was nearly at the other end of the Greek part of the island, as you can see from the map below.

I have had a brilliant week here, the weather has been amazing, 19 degrees all week, so there has been lots of walking along the coast which I will post about in the next update. Hope you are all ok, not too cold and enjoying your lives. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

New York, the iconic bits

As Ellen said before our visit, New York is the sort of place that you feel that you know before you get there. So many movies and tv shows feature parts of the city that they are all so iconic.

We did have a list of things that we wanted to visit, and it was very exciting to see things in real life that we have only seen on film. Although I visited New York about 18 years ago, that was only for a weekend, and being so near to 9/11 many things still weren’t open.

We stayed in a very lovely hotel, near to Grand Central Station, which is just as beautiful as it looks, even the ticket booths are masterpieces of art.

Our hotel was called Pod 39, and is similar to ones that I have stayed in before for city breaks, with a bunk bed layout and a small bathroom.

However the beds were very comfortable and the location was excellent. We weren’t really in the room much anyway, and the hotel had a lovely comfortable lounge with games and free hot drinks and water available so we spent some time there as well.

Our first day out was to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and we could not have had a better day for it. Although it was cold, the sky was a wonderful blue which made for excellent shots of Manhattan from the ferry.

The Statue did not disappoint and the accompanying museum was excellent with really good interpretation, not only of the story of the build, but also looking at how the statue has been portrayed in all sorts of different ways since it was built.

There was a lovely quilt and a Barbie dressed as the statue, which Ellen suggested should be one of my next makes.

They had used the restoration in the late 1990s as a chance to show how the statue was made, with recreations of the moulds that were built for the casting, including a recreation of the statue’s foot.

I didn’t realise that she was bronze coloured to start off with and the green is the patina that has built up on the metal over time. I think it looks a lot better green, especially against the blue sky. We also saw the original torch, which had to be replaced due to its collapsing on itself.

The Ellis Island Museum was equally well interpreted, with lots of the stories of the migrants and their many reasons for coming to America. It was very poignant seeing the large hall where they would wait to be assessed before entry, and the postcards of the numerous ships that brought them from all over the world.

I have always had a huge interest in migration and people’s stories of why they leave their homes and having visited other museums, such as those in Oslo, that tell the story of those who left, it was fascinating to see where they arrived. Being part of a family who have migrated, and who now live all over the world, it is always really interesting to me to hear these histories.

Our second day was to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. Central Park is somewhere that I have been to before, and it never ceases to amaze me how large it is, and how great it is to have that space in the city. They also have the fattest squirrels I have ever seen!

The Met Museum was stunning, as we knew it would be. The scale of the collections is amazing, whole Egyptian temples, courtyards of castles from Spain, Tiffany loggias and windows and so much wonderful medieval art.

There were also some gorgeous early 18th century samplers.

However, the most stunning piece in the collection for me was this store of linen, buried with one of the Egyptian queens for the afterlife.

The fact that it is still around, thousands of years after being woven, such simple textiles but amazing that all that work of the weavers centuries ago still exists.

We also spent a lot of time just marvelling at all of the wonderful buildings, the Chrysler Building is a real favourite of mine, but I also loved Penn Station.

This beautiful building that was one of the ones represented by brass plaques in the pavement. I think it looks like it came from a Lord of the Rings film.

New York still had the skating rinks at the Rockerfeller Centre and Bryant Park, and trees and decorations everywhere, so it still looked very Christmassy.

We managed to tick off our food bucket list as well with pizza, bagels, pancakes, hot dogs and burgers, only failing to find a gluten free pretzel.

A brilliant trip and I am so glad that we were finally able to get there. These next few months are hopefully going to be full of us doing things that we have been planning for a long time.

I am loving my winter sojourn in Cyprus so far and shall be sharing the first set of pictures with you later in the week. I have been so lucky with the weather, so have been out enjoying the stunning coastline here.

Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Finding haberdashery heaven

Well dear readers, the travel gods smiled upon us and Ellen and I were able to go on our very long awaited trip to New York in the second week of January. We had been planning this trip since about 2018, when we watched a series called Project Runway. This was set in one of the Fashion Institutes there, and featured regular visits by the contestants to the Garment District, in particular a shop there called Mood.

We had originally planned to go 2 years ago, for Ellen’s 30th birthday but as we know the world got a little crazy and so we put that trip on hold. We had not finally decided to go until just before Christmas, as we were waiting to see if anything changed with restrictions but sorted it all out and had a fantastic time. I had visited many years ago but it was Ellen’s first trip.

As well as buying fabric and haberdashery we wanted to visit some fashion collections and museums, as well as see all the tourist highlights. I will post later about those, this post is just all about the wonder that is the Garment District. It really is amazing how many shops there are, and how much there is available, we were at points quite overwhelmed with what to buy.

We were guided by a particular vlog from someone I have watched a lot over the years, Bernadette Banner, who did a New York Garment District vlog three years ago. I don’t remember the name of every shop we went it but we did visit B and Q trimmings, M and J Trimmings, Pacific Coast Haberdashery, and of course Mood!

This was just a tiny selection of what was in one shop, they had four aisles just of zips!

Ellen was looking for sparkly fabric for a night sky inspired project and had a hard time choosing from all the loveliness, though the $450 dollars a yard fabric got put back straight away! The Garment District is right next to Broadway, so as well as fashion fabric there are endless sequins, lace and feathers available such as these beauties.

We were both very restrained, even though a small fortune could have been spent. I just bought things for very specific Barbie couture projects as it was wonderful to have very small scale braid and trimmings available. I will do a specific post about that and my plans for the purchases later.

Before the shopping we spent some time at the Fashion Institute of Technology, looking both at the display of students’ work and at their current exhibition. The student work exhibition was really interesting, as much for the design boards as for the final creations.

The current exhibition at the museum looks at the interior spaces that many of the world’s greatest women designers lived and worked in. As well as showcasing their designs there were pictures of their salons, many of which no longer exist. It was a fascinating look at these creative spaces. The gowns on display were a very varied selection, and all stunning.

I am going to be working on more Barbie couture when I get back to Spain so wanted to choose two garments from the trip to make in Barbie size. I have chosen this gold one from the museum collection as I love the beaded detail on the neckline. I may not do anything as elaborate as this but it will be the inspiration.

The other dress I have chosen is this one from the film, ‘Mrs Harris goes to Paris’, which I watched on the plane. I love this and was able to get some gorgeous fabric in New York for it. There are so many amazing dresses in that film so may make others in the future, Barbie scale only though! Picture from the above link.

We also saw a great exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all about the history of the kimono, and how it became transformed once Japan opened up to Western fashion, and in turn how kimonos inspired other designers. Very interesting with some beautiful garments.

I am now actually in the Greek part of Cyprus where I am spending some of my winter months of exile from Spain. I am only allowed to stay there for 90 days post Brexit, but that gives me a great excuse to travel πŸ˜‰

I have a friend who lives here so came to see him, to travel around, and indulge my passion for church architecture with lots and lots of visits to Greek Orthodox churches. There are also stunning coastal walks where I am now so lots of posts of all that coming up.

I finished the blackwork just before leaving Spain and am so pleased with it. Excuse the rather odd blue tint in the first picture, but I am so happy with how it all looks and plan to do some more of these on my return to Spain. It was a very quick stitch, the border took the longest but really finishes off the pieces.

I have also started and finished a mandala for my van. The design comes from a book of embroidery I bought my Mum a few years ago, and it is stitched with perle thread. It has been a very international stitch, started in Spain, worked on in England and the USA and finished in Cyprus. It just needs the felt backing attaching and it can hang in Katy.

I hope that you are all well and happy wherever you are, and if in the UK have not suffered too badly with the extreme weather. I am very lucky to still be in 19 degrees and am making the most of it.

I will be back soon with the other New York post and will update you on my Cyprus adventures as soon as I can. I am staying in a mixture of apartments and hotels so will be dependant on the quality of the wifi. Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Making very good progress!

I am very pleased to report that the last few weeks have been very productive. After finishing off the Luna rabbit and the reindeer that I showed you in my previous post , I moved on to the rest of the wish list that I talked about here.

I have really enjoyed working on the lap quilt to use in Katy, partly as it involved lots and lots of hours choosing Liberty fabrics while watching sewing vlogs! I can’t think of a much happier way to spend my afternoons.

Katy needs to look as pretty as possible as she is going to be in the show field at one of the van life festivals that I am going to next year, as an example of a no-build micro camper, so I am planning to take this back to the UK once it is all quilted up.

I had debated taking it as a quilt top and then buying wadding and putting on the backing there, but think that it will be easier just to return with it in July as I will have little else in the bag at that point. This will be hand quilted using perle thread so will be a job to do first thing when I return in April before it gets too hot!

I chose to use 6 of my existing blocks, made during lockdown when I was doing the Riley Blake block of the week challenge. I then added 6 new log cabin ones from the vintage tablecloth stash.

I am so pleased with how these turned out, they are so pretty and the colours of the fabric go so well with the Liberty.

I have chosen to sash the blocks in white. I will just have to be careful not to get it dirty, but nothing else looked as good. I have bought a lilac sheet from the charity shop for the backing ,and the border will be Liberty as well.

I have also added to the diamond in a square blocks as they were slightly smaller, and I thought they needed a border similar to the others.

I have made really good progress with my blackwork design . This is based on one of the plasterwork designs from the Alhambra in Granada, and can be seen at the bottom of the panel below.

This was very quick to stitch as it is very small. It only measures 24 stitches and so is only about 2 and 1/2 inches in total. The border will take longer, and I still have to do the gold thread details and the beading.

I am modifying the pattern as I go along, it is too small a scale to do some of the things I drafted, so I am making alterations and will re draw the design once I am finished. I am really enjoying my first attempt at pattern design and am very pleased with the outcome.

I am thinking of gold thread stars in the ‘petal shapes’ rather than black boxes as they didn’t look right.

The last project I have been working on is the Rainbow Rascal dolls. The pattern can be found here at Dollytime on Etsy.

This is such a quick and easy knit as the jumper is knitted as part of the body. The head and legs are also included in this piece. The shoes are knitted separately but then sewn on.

I love the clothes, especially the cute little waistcoat. I had the perfect tiny heart buttons in stash for that.

This is Poppy, and Violet is about halfway done, so she will be coming with me to the UK to finish off, along with some wool to make more reindeer for someone who didn’t win them this time.

I am hoping to use some of the Little Cotton Rabbits patterns to add extra outfits and make smaller versions of the very cute rucksack these animals have. Here is one I made a while ago for a bear. I think I might need to make some donuts as well!

I am leaving for England next week and have some very exciting adventures planned for the next few months. I don’t want to jinx anything by saying too much but fingers crossed we may get to do some of the postponed trips, and some extra European loveliness before being back in Katy on tour in March.

I have missed her, and my adventures in her so much, so although it will be sad to leave everyone here, much excitement, and catching up with friends and family awaits πŸ™‚

I feel so very, very blessed to be looking forward to 2023 with all of the things that I have ever dreamed of. I am so happy in my new life and so looking forward to planning and doing lots of new things.

So I leave will leave you with my very best wishes for a Happy New Year. I will be celebrating with our now traditional evening at the Chinese restaurant here on La Marina, with lots of fireworks which I love. I hope you have a very good time and a brilliant start to 2023. I will see you again soon, hopefully with much loveliness to look at. Until then, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Happy Christmas, from me and a special tree!

This will be my last post before Christmas so I thought that it would be a good time to share some of my most recent, and older ornament makes with you, all displayed on the tiniest tree that I have ever owned!

I bought this tree last year, as you may know I love making and displaying Christmas ornaments, but due to packing everything I own into only three 20 kg bags last year for the move to Spain, there was not much room for anything, so most of the ornaments had to go to other homes. This tree is only 12 inches tall but it does have some pretty lights as well.

What survived were the ones that I most loved out of my previous stitching and I had plans to make some more tiny ones just for me. I have spent this week making two very special ones, both from one of my favourite designers, JBW Designs. I bought a new book last year from Create Nostalgia, with 20 of her designs in, but the site also sells individual designs.

I am very pleased with the two new ones, both are designs that I have stitched for other people in the past. This one is called Tree Wreath and comes from the Wreath Ornaments Collection as well as being in the booklet above.

The other is called Tiny Motifs Tree and it is from the following leaflet Christmas Keepsakes 3. I can’t find this exact pattern on the Create Nostalgia website but there are many similar trees on there. This was my gift ornament to Yorkshire friends this year.

The other very special thing about these ornaments is the backing fabric. Two years ago I was lucky enough to be able to come to Spain for Christmas during the pandemic era, so made a mask to wear on Christmas Day.

I promised myself that I was going to use the fabric for ornaments one day as a reminder of that period, and to always be grateful for being able to be with family and friends at special times. Even though we still wear masks here in health care and on public transport I have sacrificed this one for the decorations.

The older ornaments are a mix of JBW designs, such as this lovely stocking, and other designs that I have done over the years. The stockings can be found in the booklets available from Create Nostalgia.

I no longer have the Joy design, that came from a cross stitch magazine a very long time ago. This was a complex stitch but I did do another version for my Mum later on.

I have found a site with some of the Helga Mandel trees on, this is the Noel tree and if you look carefully the design spells the word, Noel, vertically.

There seems to be an error with the purchase link on that site at the moment so I don’t know how you can buy them, but they are very pretty and innovative. I still have some others of these to stitch that I got years ago so am planning to do two of those for next year as well.

I already have four stockings stitched for next year, thanks to some intensive stitching while camping this summer. My plan is to spend the week between Christmas and New Year stitching and watching Christmas movies, including all of the Die Hard series and probably most of the X Men ones for a bit of fun πŸ˜‰

I hope that you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year, the forecast for us is 20-22 degrees so we will be having a picnic on the beach and a BBQ on Christmas Day. Whatever you are doing I hope that you all have an excellent time.

Thank you for all your support and friendship over the years, I have had this little old blog for 15 years now and love meeting new people from all over the world through it. I am thrilled to now have over 400 subscribers πŸ™‚ As always have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks so much for visiting, subscribing, liking and commenting.

Tis the season …..

To hold Christmas ornament workshops again! Well in my world we can do it at any point and as long- time readers know I have held workshops in July before now πŸ˜‰

However this week was the workshop at my lovely sewing group. Last year the group did baubles with folded ribbon and some of them brought theirs from last year to show me, more of that later.

This year it was mainly trees with folded ribbon that people were doing, although one member did an egg, and another a bauble using the cutting into the ball technique. It was, as always, a lovely morning full of activity and sparkly ribbon.

The folded ribbon baubles that Isla and Teresa made last year were just stunning. I love the colour combinations and all of the different patterns that you can achieve with quite a simple process.

I did think that I had given up on the bauble making, partly as anything I make for friends now has to be easily posted, however after I got back from the session I got a message from a local sewing shop asking if I would do a workshop for them next October πŸ™‚

That gives me a great reason to restock on all my pretty embellishments when I get back to the UK and make some more samples next year doesn’t it?

All of the Christmas makings are now finished so I am getting on with rest of the to-do list that I have set myself, with a few extras thrown in. I am having a quiet pre-Christmas week and have nothing planned for the week between Christmas and New Year, so will be happily ensconced in my sewing space.

I am making some more Barbie outfits, using the same pattern that I have made many times before. I spent the first few weeks of lockdown in 2020 making these gowns, and love the flexibility of the design in that it looks so good with different types of fabric and beads . There will be an evening coat of velvet to go with the dress.

These patterns are reproductions of vintage ones and can be found on Etsy at GailsDollEPatterns. They are instant downloads and very easy to use.

I am also making good progress with my Liberty log cabin squares using some vintage tablecloth material for the centre pieces. This is the bit I love the most about making these squares, deciding which of my Liberty stash I will use πŸ˜‰ It also gives me chance to catch up on some sewing vlogs.

I will share progress with the Rainbow Rascals knitted dolls at some point in the future as I need to do a proper photo shoot. I am really enjoying knitting them as they are so quick and easy and I am planning two dolls and a lot of wardrobe changes for them.

I hope that you are all happy and busy whatever you are doing and are looking forward to Christmas if you celebrate it. I will be back before then with seasonal greetings, until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.